"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is a perfect summer read.  Absolutely perfect!

In a nutshell the book is about a road trip that two people, Amy and Roger, take from California to the East Coast. Amy's mother has moved to Connecticut and leaves Amy behind in California to finish high school. Now Amy is to drive the family car across country to join her mother. Roger, the son of a family friend, agrees to come along and do the driving since he is spending the summer with his father in Pennsylvania, anyway.  Thus begins the road trip which should only take four days, if they follow the route the Amy's mother mapped out for them. But the duo decide to take a few detours.  In the process they find out a lot about America and about themselves.

I love this story.  I love the beginning, the middle, and the ending.  I wanted the pair to continue taking detours so that the book would go on and on and I would vicariously visit other spots in the USA. I didn't want the book to end. But when it did, I jumped up and went to my computer and opened up iTunes to listen to as many of the songs as I could find from the many playlists mentioned in the book.  I hadn't really noticed until I did this how the titles of the songs actually related to each current adventure/detour.  Very clever!

Many of my blogging friends have read and reviewed this book this summer, which is why I got interested in the book in the first place.  But one reviewer said that she didn't think it was appropriate for high school students. I actually think that older high school girls will like this novel a lot. It does contain some mature subject matter, but not much, and what it does have is probably tamer than most books that girls read these days.

I've never been on a road trip of this nature but now I want to go on one.  I want to get in the car and have a final destination in mind but not a specific plan of how and when I'll get there. And when I do take my epic road trip, I want to have a journal to fill up just like Amy did in Amy and Roger's Epic Detour. Summer is not quite over.  Quick! Pick up this book and enjoy the trip!

***This is great trailer for the book but it does contain a few spoilers.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Top ten books on my TBR pile

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
TBR Pile: To Be Read Pile of books.  Here is a list of books I hope to get to very soon in the Fall.

1. Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver---I've owned the book since last Christmas and I haven't even cracked it open.  As a Kingsolver fan I think it is time I just do it.

2.  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston--- I started the book in the early Spring and I want to get back to it and finish it up.  Maybe Banned Books Week would be a good time to do so. This book will complete my reading challenge to read 6 books I should have read in school but didn't.

3.  Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell--- This is a book club selection for next month, so I probably shouldn't even put it on the list since I know I will read it.

4. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness---this book was inspired by Siobhan Dowd before she died. I just received my copy from UK since the US copies won't be out until late in September.

5. Chime by Franny Billingsley--- I've been told that this book is quite good and quite well-written.  I will read it with an eye for possible admission in to my Mock Printz workshop.

6. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson--- another book club selection. I am on the list at the library, but I'm 25th in the queue.  I doubt I'll get it in time.  I hope that another club member will loan me their copy.

7.  Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta---another possible for the Mock Printz event. This book is the sequel to Saving Francesca, which I haven't read either, so technically speaking that is two books I need to read.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Anthony John--- reading this book will complete my reading challenge to read all the ALA Award YA book winners from last year.  This book won the Schneider Family Teen Book Award for persons living with a disability.

9.  Dreamland by Sarah Dessen--- this is the only book on my nifty-fifty cart that I haven't read. I want to decide if I should leave it on the cart or replace it with another Dessen book.

10. Great House by Nicole Krauss--- this was my Christmas gift from my husband last year.  He knew I loved The History of Love by Krauss. Now that I know it is a compilation of short stores I think I can start it.

Monday, August 29 and I'm reading....

Hosted by Book Journey
I'm reading:
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson--- two kids driving from California to Connecticut take several detours along the way and in the process learn about each other and themselves.  It is every bit as good as the others reviewers have said.

I'm listening to:
Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones---"Blink and Caution are two teenage runaways in Toronto. Blink is getting by day to day by stealing breakfast leftovers from room-service trays in a fancy hotel when he accidentally observes a faked kidnapping of a wealthy CEO. Caution is on the run from an abusive and possessive drug-dealer boyfriend when she meets Blink."

I just recently finished:
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen--- Auden spends the summer before her Freshman year of college with her father and his new wife. Along the way she makes good friends, tries doing things she's never done before, and learns to ride a bike. Classic Dessen.

I hope to get to next:
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow---"Max Schmeling, champion boxer and German national hero, makes a deal with Karl's father to give Karl boxing lessons, Karl sees it as the perfect chance to reinvent himself. A skilled cartoonist, Karl has never had an interest in boxing, but as Max becomes the mentor Karl never had, Karl soon finds both his boxing skills and his art flourishing. But when Nazi violence against Jews escalates, Karl must take on a new role: protector of his family."

Sunday, August 28, 2011

100 most popular YA novels...how many have I read?

Rather Barefoot than Bookless, had this list and I decided to check out how many I've read.  If you want to do the same, copy the list and highlight those you've read then go to the linky on the post HERE that you can use to share your list with others. (Highlighted books are the ones I’ve read.)
  1. Alex Finn – Beastly
  2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
  3. Ally Carter – Callagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
  4. Ally Condie - Matched
  5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
  7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
  9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
  10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
  12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
  13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
  16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
  17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
  18. Christopher Paolini – Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
  19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
  20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
  21. Cornelia Funke - Inheart (1, 2, 3)
  22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
  23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
  25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
  26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
  27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
  28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
  29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
  31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
  33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
  34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
  37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
  38. John Green – Papper Towns
  39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
  40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
  41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
  42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
  43. Lauren Kate - Fallen (1, 2, 3)
  44. Lemony Snicket – Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
  45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
  46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
  47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
  49. Maggie Stiefvater - The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
  50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
  51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
  52. Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
  53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
  54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
  56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
  57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
  58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  60. Meg Rosoff – How I live now
  61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
  63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
  64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
  67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
  68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
  69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
  70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
  71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
  72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
  73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
  74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
  75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
  79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
  80. Sabrina Bryan and Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
  81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
  82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
  83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
  84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
  85. Scott Westerfeld – Leviathan (1, 2)
  86. Scott Westerfeld – Uglies (1, 2, 3)
  87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
  88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
  89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
  90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
  91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
  92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host
  93. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
  94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
  95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
  96. Suzanne Collins - Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
  97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
  99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
  100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

I've read 44 out of 100.  How did you do? Notice that I am not very likely to read every book in a series.  I try to read a variety of materials and don't want to spend all my time reading books in a series.  The thing that worries me is that I am not even familiar at all with several of the books (series) listed here. I've highlighted these in aqua on the list..

I am not sure how the original list was compiled or who did it.  I wouldn't hold this list as the 'gospel truth' as far as it being the definitive top 100 books, but it is certainly representative of what is popular right now in the YA world. I should point out that there are some real heavy hitters in the YA world of authors that are missing from the list: Sharon Draper, Laurie Halse Anderson, Tamora Pierce, Nancy Werlin, Walter Dean Myers are five that come to mind without too much thinking. And some very popular books that aren't noted here, such as: Anna and the French Kiss, If I Stay, and The Sky is Everywhere that are obvious omissions. Proof, in my mind anyway, that this list wasn't scientifically compiled.

Anyway, have fun and let me know how you do.

Thanks Proud Book Nerd for pointing out this list to me.

Sunday Salon: August 28, 2011

I'm watching: America's Got Talent. This week: the second semi-final.  Wow!  There are some really talented people out there.

I'm thinking about: School. The beginning of the year is around the corner.

I'm listening to: The audiobook Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones. I'm just getting started.

I'm reading: Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. I've heard so many good things about this book. I am really looking forward to reading it for myself.

Book reviewed this week: Cowboys and Aliens-Graphic Novel; Boom! by Mark Haddon; Candor by Pam Bachorz; and Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Lists I am making: Things I need to get done in the library before school starts.

Scripture lesson in church: Philippians 3:12-14---"I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me."

I'm praying for: Those people in the parts of the country affected by Hurricane Irene.

Around the house: We've had company this week--- both my parents and my husband's dad and wife. 

From the kitchen: Chicken cacciatore and homemade savory polenta.  It was fun and different. I will make it again.

Musical event: Santana concert at the White River Amphitheater!!!  Woot! Woot!  It was the best Rock concert I've been to in 30 years.

Funny event: We arrived at the Amphitheater at 5:24 PM and got our car in line to park. When we got to the front of the line, the attendant told us that the parking lot didn't open until 5:30 PM so we would have to turn around and go to the end of the line rather than just sit there for six minutes until it opened. We couldn't believe how idiotic it seemed. We have had a good laugh about it afterwards.

Picture of Carlos Santana from his Fan Club Webpage

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quote it Saturday

"God created a circle of light and love so vast, no one can stand outside of it!" -Carlos Santana

Thanks Freda's Voice for hosting Quote it Saturday.

Review: Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride is Sarah Dessen's ninth book and my first. Reading a book by Sarah Dessen has been on my list of things to do since I became a high school librarian six years ago. What took me so long? Who knows, but I just finished Along for the Ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I even woke up hours early this morning so that I could have some quiet time to finish it before the day got away from me.

Auden decides to spend the summer after her senior year living with her father, Heidi the step-mother, and new half-sister, Thisbe, before going off to college in the Fall. Up to this point Auden has focused almost all of her energy on academics with few friends and no social life. Auden helps out Heidi by keeping the books for her boutique so that she can stay home with Thisbe, who is a very fussy baby. While working at the boutique Auden makes friends with the other girls who work there. She also starts to spend time with Eli, another night-owl like Auden, and they embark on a quest --- doing things normal teenagers do that Auden never did growing up. Along the way Auden learns a lot about herself which includes "getting back up on the bike" after a fall.

Earlier this summer I placed a poll on my blog asking Dessen fans to weigh in and tell me which of Sarah's books I should read first.  Along for the Ride wasn't the winner. (I believe that Just Listen won.) However, I found this book in the audiobook section of the library and decided that would be the best way to get me started. SO I checked it out and started listening.  I really like listening to audiobooks especially if the story has complicated names (like the Eragon series) or begs for dramatic interpretation (like The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) but books like Along for the Ride sometimes bog down in this format.  The narrator, Rachel Botchan, does a great job and sounds very believable as a teenager.  The problem with the format is the amount of time it takes to listen to a book verses read a book.  When I finally switched to the written book I was able to zoom along and found I enjoyed the story much more.

Before I consider myself a Sarah Dessen fan I will want to read another of her books, but in the meantime I enjoyed this one and will certainly recommend it to students this Fall.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review : Candor by Pam Bachorz

The picture-perfect new town of Candor, Florida, is attracting more and more new families, drawn by its postcard-like small-town feel, with white picket fences, spanking-new but old-fashioned-looking homes, and neighborliness. But the parents are drawn by something else as well. They know that in Candor their obstreperous teenagers will somehow become rewired - they'll learn to respect their elders, to do their chores, and enjoy their homework. They'll give up the tattoos, metal music, and partying that have been driving their parents crazy. They'll become every parent's dream. ---from Goodreads

Candor by Pam Bachorz is a very popular book in my library.  Just about all the students rave about the book when they return it. Even two or three reluctant readers returned it with a positive comments. Now that just about never happens. So when an English teacher asked me to help her select a read-aloud book for her sophomore class, I immediately thought of Candor.  Only problem---I hadn't read it yet. This week I remedied that when I set aside a day to immerse myself in Candor, Florida and it's despicable secret.

As a quick summary, think of a mash-up between *Stepford Wives (Ira Levine) and Unwind (Neal Shusterman). Except in this book the kids are brain washed to be ideal teens. They want to do their chores, study, and eat their vegetables. As you can imagine, there is a bit of tension with those who have been converted and those who can fight the subliminal messages. It has a lot of action plus it really made me stop and think about what it really means to behave. The book isn't high literature, obviously, but it is solidly written and very intriguing. I will definitely recommend it to students casting about for a good read.

*The Stepford Wives movie made in 1975 not the 2004 version which changed the ending.

Friday- August 26

It's Friday.  Time for blogging fun.

*First Line Friday at A Few More Pages.
*The Friday 56 at Freda's Voice.

"Look up the Plaza Regent, Blink, in the shivery morning light. Count the floors---take your pick." -Opening lines
"And only when she feels her foot going to sleep does she decide to get up. It hurts. She has to lean on the tilted pony and shake the pins and needles out of her leg. 'Owww!' she cries out loud, and then laughs. There she was, expecting to be bludgeoned to death, and here she is now, moaning about a few shooting pains." -p. 56
"The sky over Kingston looks like someone stuck a giant syringe into it and sucked out all the color."---p.181 
"By the time you've waded to shore dragging that fool boat behind you, you're about as tired as a human can be. It's a deep tired, deeper than your bones. It's a give-up kind of tired."---p.257
I haven't even started this book yet, but by the opening line and the quote from page 56 I'm not even sure what to expect.  I have heard good things about the book, though, so I shall jump into it soon and find out. Interestingly, as I snooped around a bit more I notice that a lot of the book is written in second person. That is something that isn't often seen in YA Lit.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: Cowboys and Aliens (Graphic Novel)

Last week When I went to see the movie Cowboys and Aliens my husband mentioned that it was originally a Graphic Novel by the same name.  I decided to look for it at the Borders Books close-out sale and found it. The whole book took me less than an hour to read and it does have the outline of the movie within it but I actually was amazed what the producer was able to get out of Rosenburg's original comics.Perhaps I should read the original rather than the mash-up book. Either way, the book is fun and so is the movie.
The ultimate showdown between Cowboys and Indians is interrupted...by an alien invasion. The Old West will never be the same. When an extra-terrestrial armada lands in the Wild West, they find themselves in a showdown with one tough posse of rough-and-ready heroes—and the Cowboys and Aliens graphic novel gives you the thrilling comic book stories that started it all off! Compiling every issue of Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s electrifying comic book series, this gorgeous, full-color graphic novel features the dynamic creative talents of Fred Van Lente, Andrew Foley, and Luciano Lima. ---Goodreads.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Boom! by Mark Haddon

Fans of Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, will be thrilled to know that Haddon has out another wonderful book, though this one has a target audience of middle-grade kids.

Here's the summarary from the back of book:
From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there's an adventure on its way. But what does "spudvetch" actually mean, and why do Mr. Kidd's eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they're spies. Perhaps they are aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out. There really is an adventure on its way.
My family and I listened to this short book in two days of short trips around Washington. It was read by Julian Rhind-Tutt who does a marvelous job especially with the alien-speak parts.  It is really funny.  I commented to my daughter that she should consider this book for a class read-aloud if she gets an upper elementary position this year and she commented that she'd be afraid that she couldn't read out the alien bits. I told her it wouldn't matter since they are nonsense words anyway.  Just make something up! I really recommend that you listen to the audio version if you have a chance. It is a hoot.

I decided to order this book for my high school library, even though the targeted audience is younger than high school aged kids, because it is such a fun book.  I think I should be able to get it into the hands of reluctant readers, especially boys. The nice thing about the way that Haddon wrote the book is that one is never quite sure how old the main two characters are, I'd say somewhere between 11 and 14. By being ambiguous about the ages, high school students won't be put-off reading a book about kids much younger than themselves.

Thanks to Sue Jackson at Great Books to Kids and Teens for recommending this book to me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Top Ten Books I Love But Never Reviewed

Hosted by the Broke and Bookish
The Top Ten question of the day relates to books that I have never reviewed either because I just didn't get a round to it or because I read the book before I started blogging. I started blogging in July 2009. The date in parenthesis is when I read the book.

1. Feed by M.T. Anderson---This was my favorite YA read of summer 2007. The feed is an implanted computer in brains. Teenagers are constantly bombarded with consumerism and marketing messages as the world falls apart. (July 2007, published in 1999.)

2. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock--- I sing the praises of this series quite often on my blog, but I have never actually reviewed it. DJ Schwenk is a jock and works on her family dairy farm.  She helps out a family friend by working with the quarterback from the neighboring team. This story is very touching and fun.  I like the whole series. (September 2007, published in 2004.)

3. Black Swan Green by David Mitchell--- a coming-of-age tale set in England. Jason Taylor is the protagonist who experiences many trials because he is also a stutterer. Both my husband and I could relate to Jason and his troubles. (September 2007, published in 2006.)

4. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli--- This story is just about as perfect as any YA story I've ever read. I listened to the audiobook version of it and the performer was John Ritter, the late, great actor.  He did a magical job. (October 2007, published in 2000.)

5.  Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L.Going---my favorite book of the Fall of 2007. Though there is plenty in the book to make the book-burners prepare their coals, I loved the book.  It is very funny. (October 2007, published in 2004.)

6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--- I'm guessing that I will see this book on others Top Ten lists today.  This book is remarkable for many reasons. One, the narrator is death. Two, the setting is Nazi Germany during WWII with a view of the war from within Germany. Three, the book is masterfully written and is very inventive. This book is on my Top Ten favorite YA books of all time. (November 2007, published in 2006.)

7. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie--- this book is amazing on many levels. Reluctant readers actually will read this book and come back to tell me how much they liked it. It is also on my Top Ten YA favorites list. (April 2008, published in 2007.)

8. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank--- Published in 1959, this book addresses the question of what life would be like after a nuclear holocaust. Even though we know today that a lot of things that they thought about nuclear weapons were wrong, the book is very insightful about leadership, self-reliance, inventiveness, and the importance of community. (July 2008.)

9. Paper Towns by John Green--- Actually I should have all of John's book on this list since I think he is one of the premiere YA authors writing today. His characters are all multifaceted, interesting, and edgy.  This book has quite a bit of humor, too. (January 2009, published in 2008.)

10. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart--- I love this book about a plucky character, Frankie L-B. I have the hardest time getting kids to read it, though.  Perhaps if I mention it 100 times on my blog, some will finally give it a try. (April 2009, published in 2008.)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Monday, August 22 and I'm reading....

Hosted by Book Journey
What I'm reading:
Maine by Courtney Sullivan---the story of four women from three generations of a family and their beach property in Maine.

What I just finished:
Boom! by Mark Haddon---a middle-grade book by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.  The book is a hoot.  Review to follow.  Look for it!

What I'm listening to:
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen---this is my first Sarah Dessen book and I can see the appeal for teen girls.

What I hope to read next:
Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones--- Two street kids get tangled in a plot over their heads - and risk an unexpected connection - in this heart-pounding thriller.

Sunday Salon: August 21, 2011

I'm watching: Project Runway.  I can't help it.  I think I'm addicted to this reality show about fashion designers. I watch it every week with my daughters.

I'm thinking about: Joining Weight Watchers.  It is time

I'm listening to: The audiobook Boom! by Mark Haddon the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.  It was recommended to me by Sue Jackson, another blogger, and so far my family and I are really enjoying it.

I'm reading: Maine by Courtney Sullivan.  It is the book club selection of the month.  It is OK but I'm not sure we'll have a lot to talk about about during the club meeting.

Lists I am making: I am still working through a list of books which may make up my list of Mock Printz books for the workshop I hold in January before the actual Printz award winners are announced. I hope to read the books "Queen of Water" and "Blink and Caution" as other possible books for this list before I head back to school in September.

Today's Scripture in church: Acts 3:6-10. God's love is WONDROUS. My sister was the guest preacher and she did a great job.

I'm praying for: My nephew Jeffrey who continues to have troubles with the law.

Around the house: I'm getting cold feet about actually installing hard wood floors on the main level of the house.

From the kitchen: We've been grilling meat this week.  I made chicken kabobs on Wednesday and Don grilled a flank steak yesterday. I love cooking on the BBQ.

Funny event: My siblings and our families helped our parents celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary by singing a rendition of the song "1951" by Bob Bennett. We rewrote the words to match our parents young life together several years ago and now some of those words don't work anymore.  We all had a good laugh together.

Musical event: We had a musical week seeing the musical Les Miserables in Seattle last Sunday night and then today we went to a 17th Century musical program with my cousin's daughter, Erin, as one of the performers. Exquisite!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review: Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Where do I begin?

First, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey is one fantastic book...one of those books that has won a ton of awards and deserves to win more.  I mean it, this book is GOOD.

Secondly, the book is multidimensional. In an interview, Silvey sums up the novel as “a coming-of-age, regional mystery novel, stuffed inside a nervous little love story, garnished with family drama and adolescent escapism and anguish.”---Suite 101

The narrator of the novel is Charlie Bucktin, a thirteen-year old boy that lives in a small mining town in Australia in the 1960s. One night Jasper Jones, the local troublemaker, comes to Charlie's window and asks for his help. Out of admiration and fear Charlie goes with Jasper to a secret location and makes a gruesome discovery. Now Charlie is consumed with guilt at keeping this huge secret that has the whole town shook up. But while the mystery plays out, Charlie and his friend, Jeffrey Lu, a Vietnamese refugee, go about their friendship doing things like debating who is a better super hero, Batman or Superman, and goofing around like young teen boys can.

Charlie, who wants to be a writer someday, is also a voracious reader and he makes lots of literary references to his favorite authors: Twain, Harper Lee, Capote, and Kesey. In fact, some reviewers say that they think this book is the Australian version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Could Charlie's dad be Atticus Finch and the old recluse, Jack Lionel, really be the Bo Radley character?  I guess so.  It works. I really enjoyed the way that Charlie, as narrator, wove the ideas and thoughts of authors into the fabric of his life as he did with Mark Twain here:
Mark Twain might well have an opinion on everything. He might have been bestowed with wit I don't have and blessed with phrases I can't summon. He might write with the air of knowledge earned, he might invoke laughter and sadness or anger with herds of words. He might beguile and illuminate, frustrate and affect. He might gift you whole worlds to walk in, wide eyes to see through. But not even Mark Twain could describe just how soft a girl's lips are when they are pressed against your own. ---p.191
The novel Jasper Jones really does seem to have it all. It is has a coming-of-age tale that is both achingly real and hilariously funny at the same time. It has an intriguing mystery with a very sinister underbelly. The sweet romance that develops is both appropriate and awkward as one would expect from a thirteen-year-old and his love interest. There is friendship and loyalty, with the dialogue between Jeffrey and Charlie being the highlight of the book. Set during the same time period as the Vietnam conflict, it has the feel of historical fiction. It also has sports, but, unfortunately for me, I know nothing about Cricket though I did enjoy the description of the action (even if I had no clue what was happening.) And, as I said before, there were lots of literary allusions and references.

If there is one criticism I have, it is with the American publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House, who decided that this book is YA lit. I'm fairly sure, but not certain, that the Australian publisher marketed this book to adults.  Even though the story is about teenagers doesn't automatically make it a teen book (think Elegance of the Hedgehog or Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie for examples of adult books with children/teen protagonists.) Though there is a lot on the story that teens will relate to, I think that the book itself may be a bit dense for the average teenager. That said, I do hope that teens like it and that Jasper Jones gets the attention that I think it deserves from the American Book Award committees: National Book Award and/or Michael Printz Award for excellence in YA Lit.  I just ordered a copy for my library and I hope to get it in to the right hands as soon as school starts in September.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, Batman is the bravest superhero. Read the book and find out why!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chris Crutcher Challenge

Chris Crutcher Challenge.

This is an on-going, no time-limit challenge to read all of Chris Crutcher's novels. Join me as I read through all of the novels. Attach your review links in the comment section here.
  • Period 8 (2013)
  • Angry Management (2009)
  • Deadline (2007)
  • The Sledding Hill (2005)
  • King of the Mild Frontier: an Ill-Advised Autobiography (2003)
  • Whale Talk (2001)
  • Ironman (1995)
  • Staying Fat for Sarah Brynes (1993)
  • The Deep End (1992)
  • Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories (1991)
  • Chinese Handcuffs (1989)
  • The Crazy Horse Electric Game (1987)
  • Stotan! (1986)
  • Running Loose (1983)
(My progress on this challenge will be noted on My Challenge Page, with links to my reviews.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Ironman by Chris Crutcher

I LOVE CHRIS CRUTCHER! Well, I actually don't know Chris Crutcher but I do love his books, every single one I have read. This book is no exception. It is fantastic, not to be missed.

Ironman is the story of a boy, Bo Brewster, who is locked in a power-struggle with his father. He also ends up in an anger management group following angry outbursts at school related to quitting the football team. There he meets a bunch of kids who have serious anger issues, also. All the while he is training as hard as he can to participate in an iron-man competition (swimming, biking, running.)

In addition to being an author, Chris Crutcher is a Child and Family Therapist. He also spent nearly a decade working in an Alternative School in Oakland. Because of these experiences his books seem to be very authentic and realistic. Crutcher gets it that all kids don't come from healthy homes. He gets it that sometimes teens have to deal with parents who are abusive, addicted, or absent.  He understands that teens may have to be the financially responsible people in their families or the consistent care-givers to younger siblings. Yet, all of his books have some adult who understands kids and can help guide positive decisions. You might think that the books all sound too serious, but actually there are really funny scenes, too.
...Mr. Redmond is seeming more and more like a cartoon character to me, and rather than getting angry at him, I'm starting to get embarrassed for him. It has taken a long time for me to understand Mr. Nak's notion that my anger is a cover for fear, and only when I admit to that fear will I get control of my anger, or in fact have no need for it. I'm coming to understand when Redmond or my dad pushes me, and if I can acknowledge it, there's no need to cover it. Believe me, that's a lot easier said than done, because it's a natural, unthinking thing to haul out your rage in a flash so no one sees how scared you are. But understanding that-- truly understanding it-- is like being handed a secret of the universe, because people look different to me then. ---p.220
Ironman was published in 1995 so I was worried that it would be outdated, but the story seemed very current and relevant, aside from a few comments about listening to a Walkman.  Ha!  I hope that you give Ironman or any of his other books a try.  I such a big fan that I am going to start a Chris Crutcher Challenge to encourage myself and everyone who participates to read all his books.  Check out the Chris Crutcher challenge here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Top Ten Book-Related Places

Hosted at Broke and Bookish
Top Ten Favorite Book-Related Places

1. Graham-Kapowsin High School Library (My library!)
The circular part of the building is the library on the 2nd floor
2. Puyallup Public Library
It has really interesting architectural features inside.

3. Pierce County Library
This is the public library I frequent the most often.
4. Seattle Public Library
This thing is so cool inside and out.  It makes the top ten list of the coolest libraries in the world.
5. Suzzallo Library on University of Washington campus
This is a gorgeous library, it is almost like a cathedral. This is where I did my training to become a librarian.
6. Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon
This bookstore is a destination. Once you enter you need a map to find your way around.
7. Elliott Bay Books
I could spend a whole day browsing this Indy bookstore in Seattle.

8. Smith Family Bookstore in Eugene, Oregon
A bit on the junky side, but really helpful clerks and one can find true treasures.

9. King's Books in Tacoma, Washington

They have a great selection and a bookstore cat, too.

10. Hammocks
Backyard. Books. Hammock.  Ah..h..h

What is one of your favorite book-related places?